14 Yr Old Daughter Needs a Wake up Call-quick!

Updated on May 15, 2012
C.B. asks from Keller, TX
12 answers

My daughter is a freshman in high school. She has always been a good student, making straight A's. Now that she's in high school, her grades have dropped and she's been caught skipping class a couple of times. She lies about anything and everything, has a bad attitude at home and an overall "poor me" disposition. I don't know what has gotten into her. She has everything she needs and wants at home and is a cheerleader at school. We have tried grounding, extra chores, writing reports, apology letters, etc for punishment but nothing seems to work. I need to find a way to give her a wake up call before it is too late. Any suggestions?

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Try talking to her and ask her how you can HELP, not punish her. I remember being 14 - it was not an easy age. Not every kid who made straight As in middle school will in high school. You need to be 2 standard deviations better than the mean to get an A (with a C mean) - so not that many kids will. I was a straight A kid all the way through and I skipped a few classes, lied occasionally and slammed a lot of doors. And yet, I still got into my first choice college, am a productive member of society and still have a strong relationship with my parents.

What happened when my parents grounded me - I got better at hiding where I was. When they punished me (rarely) - I sulked and talked to them less. When they talked to me - I was happier, they were happier. There is fairly clear research evidence that punishment does NOT work - as in it is simply not effective in changing kids' behaviors.

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answers from Portland on

If you've tried talking with her and found it not to be helpful, I suggest that you get into family counseling with her. Not only will the counselor listen to your daughter and help her get on the right path but she will also help you learn how to communicate with your daughter.

I suggest that you read the book, How to talk so Kids will listen and how to listen so kids will talk by Edna Farber and Elaine Mazlish.

And/or google non violent communication. This program will also help you learn how to talk with your daughter in a manner that will make it easier for the two of you to understand each other.

How long have you tried each of these consequences? I suggest that you first, try to make the consequence fit the "crime." For example, if she skips school, you take her to school. So embarrassing for her. If you choose grounding then be consistent for several weeks time with grounding her.

For the bad attitude, send her to her room each and every time she's
disrespectful. She can come out of her room when she's able to apologize. Just send her to her room. She can, play music, watch TV, read, whatever she'd ordinarily do in her room on her own.
Sit down with her and draw up a list of rules and their consequences together. You may be surprised at how creative and hard on herself, she will be.

I suggest you talk with the school counselor. My granddaughter is in middle school. The school counselor said that this is the age during which kids social lives are more important. As a freshman your daughter is in a new social setting and may be having difficulty accepting responsibility. If you have definite expectations that you enforce without anger or frustration she may be able to settle down. I suggest that your daughter may be more normal than you think. Ask what the counselor sees and what you can expect. She can also give you help with finding a better way of communicating with your daughter.

Do not put her in a position to lie. If you know something to be true, tell her what you know. Do not ask her. Don't lecture. Give the consequence and once she's complied let go of the need to repeat the lecture about something that happened in the past. Each day is a new beginning.

Again, I suggest that family counseling would be most helpful.

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answers from Columbia on

As opposed to my many "tough love" answers, I suggest patience and love for this one.

Weren't we ALL this teen? Trying to try on a different persona than our parents? Rebeling? Lying? Toying with being in the 'bad crowd'?

My strict father became a micromanager in my teens. It was unbearable.

I'm not there yet in full disclosure, but I hope to be the parent that gives a ton of rope in preparation for adulthood. And I hope also to show and explain what adulthood is like, and what strategies I tried in getting there.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Spend more possitive time with her, just sit on her bed and chit chat, let her know you care about her life.
Next fall have her join a club, if she has time and a winter or spring sport.
Try the drama club.
Are you involved in a church, try youth group
Get to know her friends, take her and a few of them to the movies or the skate rink.
Be the hip mom, have teenage food in the house and have her invite her friends over.
Grounding her, extra chores, punishments just reinforce that you hate her as much as she thinks, I know you don't, but in her mind it is all about her right now.
They do get out of this funk, I;m still waiting though, mine are 14 and 17. I spend a lot of time listening and saying oh, uh huh, really, wow, what did you do, what did "friend" do,
When she gets married and has kids you will be a genius again. :o)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

At that age, a lot of girls just don't know why they're feeling how they're feeling. I was just like how you described your daughter in early high school. Stopped caring about schoolwork, felt lack luster in general, gave attitude, etc etc. My mom pulled me from volleyball. Honestly, that was the worst thing she could have done. She took away the only thing that kept me motivated, and after that, I truly didn't care about anything for a while. Punishments weren't effective, bc I didn't care about what was being taken away.
It lasted the end of my sophomore and most of my junior year. I never got into drugs or a bad crowd, and my mom let me stay on the track team. That was a godsend. My confidence came back, bc I was an outstanding athlete. By the end of my junior year, I felt better, dis better, cared about me!
I honestly, to this day, can't say what happened or why I was in a funk, but I attribute it to super whacked out teenage hormones. Let her move in her own time, but guide her gently to the right path. Obviously if she's into bad things and people, move in to help her. But don't assume even she knows why she is acting this way. She may not know. And that's pretty crappy.

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answers from San Francisco on

Have you tried talking to her? Have you sat down with her one on one and asked her what's going on?
At this age it could be any number of things. If she doesn't want to talk to you about it make an appt. with her guidance counselor, maybe s/he has an idea about what's happening.

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answers from San Diego on

Aside from listening and discussing... volunteer work. She sounds like she has a great life and falls into the trap that many of "us" with a great life fall into. She may need to start seeing the other side and get outside of herself. What does poverty, lack of education, lack of services look like? That is the best wake up call I can think of - but not just a one time stint - consistently involved in charity work.

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answers from San Francisco on

Make and appointment with her school counselor and develope a plan. I would suggest suspending her from the cheer squad and if there is no improvement, perhaps a change in schools.

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answers from Washington DC on

Great answers below.

I wanted to add: You do not say in the post whether you have just asked her. How good is your communication? What discussions have you had? Have they been limited to your telling her "You can't skip school" and her saying "You're not the boss of me" (or some variation on that theme)? Yes, as someone noted, a talk with the school counselor is the first stop -- you alone the first time, then your daughter. The school counselor actually should have already gotten involved since your child is skipping school -- counselors are supposed to help with behaviors that directly affect a child's school life.

Middle and early high school are socially tough times. Have you been able to get through to her enough that she is communicating with you? Do you know for sure who her friends are now, and what they do together? Do you feel confident that you would really know if she were being bullied; just being left out? Would she tell you if she were feeling overwhelmed academically, or is she used to being the great straight-A student at home so she might fear showing that she's in trouble with academics? Even good students can hit a class where they suddenly are not the straight-A star and that can send them into a tailspin where things worsen and they say they don't care about grades any more. Have you talked to her teachers individually not just about grades but about what they observe of her in class and her interactions with peers? Have you explored the "poor me" attitude and seen if there is possibly some real reason for at least some of it, if she is depressed, or academically overwhelmed but scared to admit it, or socially left out but reluctant to tell you --- and so on?

I agree too with the person who asked how long you've tried each consequence. It sounds as if there might not have been a lot of consistency. She needs to know that each and every time she does X, the result will be unpleasant consequence Y -- instantly and without negotiation.

You also don't mention what seems like the obvious ultimate consequence you have available. Have you told her that if she does X -- and skipping class or school would be the worst offense to me -- she will lose her cheerleading position? If that is what she values most about school, that is what she should lose. You may need to talk to the cheerleading coach about whether you can withdraw her from the cheer squad temporarily or whether any time away from the squad would mean she would be thrown off it for the entire year.

A talk from the cheerleading coach -- rather than mom or dad -- may have more impact on her right now, if cheering is really her thing. If you talk to the coach and get the coach to back you on removing her for a certain number of weeks or games if she skips school or class, and the coach sits her down and says "We'd hate to lose you but schoolwork and attendance come first," that could shake her up. In fact -- doesn't the squad have some kind of attendance and/or academic minimum standard to participate anyway?

But most of all, either through a counselor or therapist or just by getting some good parenting books for this age -- see if you can find out why her attitude seems to have changed so suddenly.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Check out Love and Logic - I just took a class and some of the tips sound like the would be helpful for you. It's something that give the teens more "control" but more real life consequences, hopefully in situations that aren't life threatening. You can contact their website and they'll send you a list of facilitators in your area.

I call the tee years "reverse menopause" - we all get how women explode when the hormones head out, but no one really thinks about how the opposite is happening PLUS the lack of experience to cope with that and the social stuff going on in the teens. Talk to her like she's an adult - the shock of that may jolt her back into sense. And you need this relationship to get solidified cause she WILL be a legal adult in 4 years. Communication can't wait.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lubbock on

Have her focus on her goals. If she doesn't have any, make that your research project. Find something that she loves. Then you can ask her if her behavior is bringing her closer to her goal or further away from it. Ask her what she needs to do to reach her goal. Ask what you can do to help her. Walk her through the reasoning if needed. Talk frankly about the possible repercussions of her choices, but in the end, her choices are up to her.

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answers from Dallas on

I agree with Leigh. I have to say though...do you know all of her friends really well right now? She is at such an impressionable age that I would be willing to bet that there is a negative friend in there somewhere.

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